I am not ashamed to say that I am a former ABW (Angry Black Woman) presently in recovery. What removed my shame was watching the movie Harriet Tubman and also understanding my family history. However, I’m not going to discuss the endless reasons why I was angry. Instead, I prefer to discuss what set me free and the joy I feel knowing that my Black adult sons have lived long enough to see their mother not just smile but laugh uncontrollably.
Tyler Perry once commented about hardly seeing his late mother smile, and I immediately made the connection. It’s difficult to smile when you’re carrying the world on your shoulders. Or are the family-designated therapist, breadwinner, negotiator, or a member of the “good daughter tribe.”
It’s hard to laugh when you don’t love the person you see in the mirror and feel devalued because she doesn’t fit society’s stereotypes of beauty or success. Thank God for my mother’s unconditional love that kept reminding me of my inner and outer beauty. My aunt, who showed me the power of femininity as she challenged local school boards, marched on Washington with Dr. King and John Lewis as the secretary of the Central Long Island branch of the NAACP.
My sons never witnessed intimacy or laughter between their parents when they were growing up. Instead, they saw a mother who worked on a job she hated and felt trapped in a loveless marriage. Years later, their mother received love from an unexpected source and discovered the healing power of laughter, which led to her journey towards emancipation and freedom in the form of a divorce.
Letting go of things and people no longer needed in your life is an act of courage and liberation. My sons have witnessed the transformation of a woman who powered through her pain and landed in a space where she can watch an old-school show like “It’s a Different World” and laugh hysterically at the antics of characters who remind her of old friends and experiences. There is an invisible but palpable and collective “exhale” as they relax on the sofa, see their mom in a new light and join her in laughter.
Laughter is one of the most beautiful forms of humanity. It is the most powerful legacy you can give your children and a memory they will never forget.